The Hungarian chapter of Greenpeace today issued the following press statement regarding an important second-level court decision in the Kishantos bio-farm case. For additional information, contact Fora Hevesi, communications manager Greenpeace CEE, Hungary, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel.: +36 20 525 3500.
The Capital City Court invalidated one of the contracts concluded with one of the “new winners” of the right to cultivate state-owned grounds previously leased to the Kishantos bio-farm. The court ordered the first-level court to retry the case.
The Kishantos Countryside Development Center sued the National Ground Found Management Organization (NFA) in 2013 (after being stripped of 452 hectares of farmland it had leased from the government for over 22 years-ed.). However, the lawsuit was dismissed by the Pest Center District Court. In practice, the invalidation of the contract means that a new public tender must be announced.
Kishantos filed numerous lawsuits against NFA in 2013 over the manner by which the right to cultivate state lands was tendered, applications evaluated, and possession of the ground transferred. The lawsuit was rejected by the first-level court without any substantive hearings or examinations taking place.
“The fact that the Capital City Court ordered the first-level court to initiate a new procedure and invalidated the contract whose every point we contested reinforces our belief that an impartial justice system still exists in Hungary, and that bastions of the rule of law remain,” emphasized Dr. Katalin Rodics, regional Greenpeace representative responsible for agricultural issues.
The Kishantos Countryside Development Center appealed the first-level decision to the Capital City Court in December 2014. In its appeal it asked that the court invalidate contracts concluded between the NFA, Mező Vidék Bt. and the State of Hungary. The second-level hearing took place today.
In its decision the court declared invalid the contract concluded between NFA and Mező Vidék Bt. in the latter’s capacity as the new winner of the right to cultivate state-owned lands previously cultivated by Kishantos.
The main argument offered by Kishantos in its appeal was that the first-level court had inadequately and mistakenly issued a ruling based on a legal petition other than the one it had actually submitted. The Capital City Court agreed that the first-level decision was unfounded, ruling in favor of the plaintiff.
Earlier an enforcable second-level decision was handed down which found that Ministry of Agriculture undersecretary Márton Bitay knowingly and deliberately stated falsehoods about Kishantos when attempting to justify his agency’s decision to award state lands previously cultivated by Kishantos to third parties. (The court ruled that Bitay had falsely stated that Kishantos had fallen into arrears when this was not the case-ed.). The decision ordered that Kishantos be compensated by having its lands restored to it.